Cody Is Difficult To Avoid

Terrence Cody is almost a cult figure. A very big cult figure. It is difficult to get away from discussion of the senior Alabama nose tackle. For Crimson Tide center William Vlachos, discussion is not the only thing about Cody that is difficult to avoid.

William Vlachos, reputed to be the strongest player on Alabama's football team, practices almost every day against Terrence Cody, thought to be the Tide's heaviest player.

"He's certainly the heaviest nose guard I'll face," Vlachos said. Vlachos is an averaged size center, 6-0, 300. Ask the 6-5 Cody his weight and the answer is always "354." Estimates vary.

Vlachos said he gets worn down "a little bit" in practice work against Cody. Alabama seems to have more practice than most teams in which the first offensive goes against the first defense. Tide Coach Nick Saban thinks it helps his team to get that work.

Vlachos said it has helped him to work against Cody and "I think it's helped him a lot. He's gotten better as the year has gone along. He's had a great season."

Cody doesn't have eye-popping statistics. Vlachos says that doesn't tell the story.

"He does so much for the defense -- freeing up linebackers; commanding the respect of people to game plan to stop him would be one of the biggest things," Vlachos said. "If you are going to focus on stopping him, somebody else is going to make a play. There's no weak links on our defense. Everybody can play, everybody knows where he's supposed to be. If Terrence is taking up two blockers and not making the tackle but holding his ground, he's doing his job and someone else can make the tackle."

But, Vlachos said, "Terrence is a lot more than just a space-eater. A lot more.

"He has great hands and he's very quick. He doesn't just stand there and take up space, which some nose guards do -- big guys, not very agile. He does a great job of getting separation, using his hands, reading blocks."

Vlachos said "Blocking nose guards is a tough job for the center because a lot of times you're one-on-one with them. I can't do anything about it. I've just got to go and try to get better."

Cody, Vlachos and all other members of the Crimson Tide are working to get better with some big stakes on the table. Alabama will meet Texas for the national championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on January 7.

The Tide had its second practice Sunday since running its record to 13-0 in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game with a 32-13 win over Florida.

A visiting Texas sportswriter Sunday wondered what Vlachos though would be the most difficult aspect of the Alabama defense for the Longhorns.

"The speed and talent across the board," Vlachos said. "Our linebackers and front and secondary just all-around such a great defense. They are good. There's not a weak spot in it."

It was suggested that Bama's defense appears to be so punishing that Alabama offensive players might suffer in practices.

"I don't think anyone's gotten hurt in practice against them," ?Vlachos said smiling. They're great. Our coaches do a great job of scheming things. And the personnel.

"Let's talk about Rolando McClain in particular. Not only is he big and fast and smart and all that. He has the ability to play through blocks and play around blocks. Sometimes linebackers will be evasive type guys and some will be run though you type guys. Rolando can read a situation and he can play both ways and that's what makes him so great. All our guys have got it figured out. Our coaches put them in position. They've done a great job this season."

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